A Watershed Protection Audit of Development Policy in Raleigh, North Carolina

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The city of Raleigh, North Carolina, is growing by leaps and bounds. In July 2007, it became the 50th largest city in the country, and city planners estimate that the population of Raleigh may grow more than 70 percent by the year 2030. This growth has already begun impacting the environment, as air and water quality declines and water supply and wastewater treatment centers seek new ways to build capacity. Recent drought conditions have exacerbated water pollution and low water supply issues, and Raleigh is struggling to implement policies that address state-mandated pollution prevention. City planners are beginning to reconsider previous development patterns and policies. In August 2007, city managers kicked off the City of Raleigh Comprehensive Plan revision process, in order to create a new policy framework that fosters greater environmental protection.

Watershed protection maintains environmental quality by filtering air and water pollutants, protecting wildlife habitat, mitigates flood hazards and reduces strain on treatment facilities. This project incorporates principles of smart growth and watershed management to develop a new auditing tool that evaluates how well development policies contribute to watershed protection. This tool uses a checklist, based on indicators or characteristics of watershed protection, to identify strengths and weaknesses in development policies. An analysis of Raleigh’s development policies, based on preliminary results from this watershed protection audit, indicates that current policies do not sufficiently address watershed protection.

A more extensive analysis, completed by the city over a longer time period, would identify specific areas of concern and gaps in policy implementation or enforcement. This project also outlines steps for the future use of this tool in Raleigh, discusses the information necessary to implement this audit, and outlines the challenges that will need to be addressed during the audit and the implementation of new policies.





Gottlieb, Jessica (2008). A Watershed Protection Audit of Development Policy in Raleigh, North Carolina. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/472.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.